D’Aguilar: Redeveloped cruise port for small Bahamian vendors not in competition with Bay Street

D’Aguilar: Redeveloped cruise port for small Bahamian vendors not in competition with Bay Street
Tourism & Aviation Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The redeveloped Nassau cruise port will facilitate small Bahamian vendors and is not intended to be in competition with the offerings of Bay Street merchants, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday, as he again defended the cruise port deal as being better than that of the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) model.

D’Aguilar, who was addressing concerns over the deal by Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin in Parliament yesterday, stated Global Ports Holding will build a word-class port, with the majority of shares to be owned by Bahamians.

“I would contend that it is better than the NAD deal. When the interest is paid on the debt, when dividends are paid on the shares, a greater portion of that will come to the Bahamian people,” D’Aguilar argued.

While Hanna-Martin contended that NAD is 100 percent Bahamian owned, D’Aguilar noted that the port is being leased for 25 years with 51 percent Bahamian ownership. D’Aguilar contended that the cruise port offers “deeper” Bahamian ownership.

“Even though we own 100 percent of the airport, the last time I checked, 78 percent of that interest goes to foreign countries,” said D’Aguilar.

The government has signed a 25-year port operation and lease agreement with the Nassau Cruise Port consortium, which includes Global Ports Holding, the Bahamian Investment Fund and the Yes Foundation.

According to D’Aguilar, a cultural museum will be a part of the redeveloped cruise port, offering to expose foreign visitors to Bahamian culture.

“Bahamian vendors will operate all the stores and restaurants. It will not compete with Bay Street. We don’t want lots of jewelry stores, perfume stores and other stores found on Bay Street. This is for the smaller Bahamian vendors. This is not for the big Bay Street boys,” said D’Aguilar.